Tested to Extremes: Rolex Watches for Risk Takers
Robust and reliable timepieces that perform flawlessly for every season and reason.
Inscribed on every dial of an Oyster, Perpetual means so much more than a self-winding watch movement. It is a spirit that is pure Rolex — one that defines the Swiss manufacture’s past, shapes its present and directs its future. It is a promise towards continuous improvement and lasting excellence. Embodying this promise, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date, Oyster Perpetual Milgauss, Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller and Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master are robust and reliable timepieces that complement the bold personalities taking charge of not only their own destinies but also their own organisations or professions.
One such personality was Hans Wilsdorf, the visionary Rolex founder whose stream of inventions changed the world. Amongst his most important inventions was the Oyster case which constituted an important milestone in the history of contemporary watchmaking. “I prophesy that the Oyster will popularise the wearing of wristwatches with men more than anything else has done,” he said, after the launch of the Oyster watch in 1926. “You just keep your Oyster on your wrist whatever happens and it will never fail you.” A time-honoured promise that would lead to the Oyster’s being chosen and relied on by numerous pioneers — from climbers of the highest peaks to explorers of the deepest reaches of the oceans. Even today, it can adapt to any environment, keeping perfect time.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date
As part of the close relationship with the world around us and the emergence of new areas of endeavour such as civil aviation and underwater exploration, Rolex developed ‘Professional’ tool-watches in the 1950s. These timepieces featured particularly useful characteristics for activities in demanding and often extreme environments that required robust and reliable equipment. At the time, Rolex played an important role in the development and manufacturing of waterproof chronometer wristwatches, thanks in particular to the Oyster case, which was patented in 1926.
As Rolex wanted to create a watch that met divers’ practical needs as closely as possible, in the 1950s it began an experimental process that involved many successful collaborations with diving pioneers. The experiments carried out and subsequent technical advances led to the introduction of the Submariner, the first divers’ wristwatch waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), then to 200 metres (660 feet) in 1954, and equipped with a rotatable graduated bezel to display immersion time. In 1969, the date function was added, making that the first appearance of the Submariner Date. By 1979, its waterproofness was extended to 300 metres (1,000 feet).
Continually updated to feature Rolex’s latest technical innovations, the new-generation Submariner and Submariner Date are equipped respectively with calibre 3230 — launched in 2020 — and calibre 3235. Developed and manufactured by Rolex, the movements feature outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date in Oystersteel and 18 ct yellow gold with a Cerachrom bezel insert in blue ceramic and a royal blue dial, fitted with an Oyster bracelet
From its debut in 1969, the Oyster Perpetual Submariner Date has remained a paragon of adaptability. Featuring a redesigned, slightly larger 41 mm case, the Submariner Date is the latest generation of the world’s most popular diver’s watch. Over time, the appeal of the Submariner Date has extended well beyond the marine depths. With their proven performance, these tool watches have become emblematic as the watch of choice on land as underwater. Legibility and reliability are key to the success of the Submariner Date, because when diving, being able to read the time with absolute certainty is a matter of survival. Therefore, the dial of the Submariner Date is designed to be clean and unambiguous. The hour and minute hands, clearly differentiated in size and shape, are coated or filled with a luminescent material that emits a long-lasting blue glow in dark conditions; this is called the Chromalight display. The hour markers in simple geometric forms — triangles, circles and rectangles — and broad hour and minute hands enable instant and reliable reading to prevent any risk of confusion underwater.
The triangular zero marker on the unidirectional rotatable bezel of the Submariner Date is visible in darkness thanks to a capsule containing the same luminescent material. Patented by Rolex, the Cerachrom insert is made of extremely hard, virtually scratchproof ceramic whose colour is unaffected by ultraviolet rays. In addition, thanks to its chemical composition, the high-tech ceramic is inert and impervious to corrosion. The graduations and the numerals are moulded into the ceramic and coated with gold or platinum using a PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) process.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss
Built as a tribute to science, the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss is perhaps the perfect timepiece for the 21st century. Created for scientists, engineers and technicians whose work brings them into contact with magnetic fields that can disrupt the performance of mechanical watches, the Milgauss was designed to resist interference of up to 1,000 gauss — the unit of measurement formerly used for magnetic induction — thanks to a magnetic shield patented by Rolex protecting the movement. This is important because the reliability and precision of a standard mechanical watch are affected by a magnetic field of 50 to 100 gauss (or 0.01 tesla, according to today’s unit of measure). As a general example, the strength of the magnetic field of an ordinary poster magnet at a distance of 5 mm is around 200 gauss. Rolex overcame this problem with a patented innovation: a magnetic shield protecting the movement. Launched in 1956, the Milgauss notably became known as a watch worn by scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.
Aesthetically, the Milgauss, with a 40 mm case, stands out with its distinctive orange seconds hand shaped like a lightning bolt, which was inspired by the original model. One of the watches also features a green sapphire crystal, a novelty in watchmaking.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Milgauss in Oystersteel with Z-blue dial featuring luminescent hour markers and a green sapphire crystal, fitted with an Oyster bracelet
Surrounded as we are by the electromagnetic noise of our digital tools, the Oyster Perpetual Milgauss takes it all in stride, and with a dash of style. With its clean lines and evocative orange seconds hand, shaped like a lightning bolt to echo the original model, the Milgauss is recognisable at a glance. The Z-Blue dial of the Milgauss not only makes the watch instantly recognisable but also iconic as it is an exclusive feature only on this model. Completing the stunning face of the watch, the 18 ct white gold hour markers and hands are filled with Chromalight, with the seconds hand lacquered orange.
Today, several innovations contribute to the resistance of the Milgauss, a technological gem. Most notable of these is the magnetic shield inside the Oyster case. Made of two ferromagnetic alloys, this shield surrounds and protects the movement. It is engraved with a “B” with an arrow above it, the symbol for magnetic flux density. This invention was patented by Rolex in 1956 and has since been further improved. The brand has also enhanced two of the movement’s key parts, the oscillator and the escape wheel; since 2007, these have been made from paramagnetic materials. Ensconced within the Oyster case, the calibre 3131 features a blue Parachrom hairspring, manufactured by Rolex in a paramagnetic alloy. Insensitive to magnetic fields, the Parachrom hairspring offers great stability in the face of temperature variations and remains up to 10 times more precise than a traditional hairspring in case of shocks. It is equipped with a Rolex overcoil, ensuring its regularity in any position, and features a paramagnetic escape wheel made from nickel-phosphorus.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller
A technical marvel, the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is uniquely suited for those who raise expectations and move goalposts. The watch makes a powerful statement that innovative watches should also be easy to use. Designed for frequent travellers but also very useful for those who might simply need to keep track of time in multiple time zones, all of its functions are controlled by the crown, in one position, with the rotatable fluted bezel acting as a function selector.
The reference time, in 24-hour format, is shown via an off-centre disc, and the local time is read using conventional centre hands. A particularly innovative annual calendar named Saros — after the astronomical phenomenon of the same name — displays the date at 3 o’clock and the month via 12 apertures around the circumference of the dial. The off-centre disc’s 24-hour graduation allows travellers to distinguish daytime hours from night-time hours in the reference time zone.
The Saros annual calendar also automatically differentiates between 30- and 31-day months. It is operated by a patented mechanism and stands out for its innovative display: the months of the year are indicated in 12 apertures around the circumference of the dial, with the current month marked in red.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller in 18 ct yellow gold with a bright black dial, fitted with an Oysterflex bracelet
For a watch packed with innovations, the Oyster Perpetual Sky-Dweller is not only intuitive to use, but also a very attractive proposition. The 18 ct yellow gold of the case, hour markers and hands combine with the bright black dial to offer superior legibility during the day, while Chromalight on the hands and hour markers emit a long-lasting blue glow in dark conditions, making it just as easy to read at night. The Sky-Dweller’s new Oysterflex bracelet, developed and patented by Rolex, offers a sporty alternative to metal bracelets that delivers the reliability of a metal bracelet with the suppleness, comfort and aesthetics of an elastomer strap.
Two things make the Sky-Dweller the superlative timepiece that it is: the Ring Command system, an interface between the rotatable bezel, winding crown and movement that allows the wearer to select and set the timepiece’s functions one by one, easily, quickly and securely, as well as the self-winding calibre 9001. Both were entirely developed and manufactured by Rolex, and have a number of patents between them. Incorporating the Ring Command system with the movement made the Sky-Dweller one of the most complex timepieces developed by the brand. Its architecture, manufacturing and innovative features make it exceptionally precise and reliable.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master
Launched in 1992, the sharp and elegant Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master embodies the rich heritage that has bound Rolex and the world of sailing since the 1950s. The Yacht-Master offers great legibility in all circumstances, even in the dark, thanks to its Chromalight display: the large hour markers and broad hands are filled or coated with a luminescent material emitting a long-lasting blue glow — for up to two times longer than traditional phosphorescent materials.
The Yacht-Master’s Oyster case, guaranteed waterproof to a depth of 100 metres (330 feet), is a paragon of robustness and reliability. The case back, edged with fine fluting, is hermetically screwed down with a special tool that allows only certified Rolex watchmakers to access the movement. The Triplock winding crown — fitted with a triple waterproofness system — screws down securely against the case. It is protected by an integral crown guard.
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Yacht-Master 40 in 18 ct Everose gold and Oystersteel, fitted with an Oyster bracelet
This Yacht-Master 40 features a chocolate dial and a bidirectional rotatable bezel in 18 ct Everose gold with a raised 60-minute graduation and numerals while the stunning Everose Rolesor combination of Oystersteel and 18 ct Everose gold offers unsurpassed elegance and reliability. Everose gold, a proprietary Rolex blend, was created and patented by Rolex in 2005, and is cast in its own foundry. Featured extensively across this timepiece, the bidirectional rotatable 60-minute graduated bezel, hour markers, hands and centre links of the Oyster bracelet are all in 18 ct Everose gold while the middle case and the outer links of the bracelet are in Oystersteel. This auspicious meeting of two materials on a single Rolex watch: the juxtaposition of gold and steel with their contrasting colours and radiance, in subtly balanced harmony, is a patented process Rolex refers to as Rolesor.
The self-winding calibre 3235 that powers this watch is developed and manufactured by Rolex. A movement at the forefront of watchmaking technology, it has a power reserve of approximately 70 hours, and is accurate to +/-2 seconds a day. A consummate demonstration of technology, this movement carry a number of patents and offer outstanding performance in terms of precision, power reserve, resistance to shocks and magnetic fields, convenience and reliability.
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